The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

April 15, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Daniel McGowan
Telephone: 315-789-3524
Email: mcgowan@hws.edu

Most people recognize that the apartheid wall Israel has been building for the past twelve years will one day be removed. But few have given serious consideration to how best to recycle hundreds of miles of this “separation barrier.”

The idea of offering an annual prize for the best proposal of how to recycle Israel’s apartheid wall was conceived at the One Democratic State Conference in Munich in 2012.

Sponsors of the contest include:

Righteous Jews.org
If Americans Knew
Americans for Just Peace in the Middle East
Deir Yassin Remembered
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends

Proposals were evaluated by board members of Deir Yassin Remembered, a “balanced” group of human rights advocates, Palestinians, Jews, and others.

Deir Yassin Remembered is proud to announce that this year’s winner is Michelle Kinnucan of Seattle, Washington. The prize is $1,000.

The RAW Prize is unique within Palestinian/Israeli activism. It changes the narrative from separation to reunification, from racism to universal human rights, from two states to one with equal civil rights for all.

The RAW Prize focuses attention on the enormity and the cost of this instrument of separating the “chosen” from the “children of a lesser God.”

The RAW Prize is forward-looking, not static. It neither condemns nor justifies the wall, but simply looks at what will be come of it in the future. It is also “green;” it is not about destruction, but about recycling – recycling for the benefits of humanity. Could houses be made from the huge T-shaped blocks of reinforced concrete? Could breakwaters and coastal erosion projects use such easily dismantled objects?

Both Jews and non-Jews recognize that the wall will go. Now both can work to recycle it. Proposals like Michelle’s promote activism now, even by those who are not into boycotts and vigils and writing blogs.

Download Michelle’s winning entry or read it below. Read more »

Report on Beth Israel vigil 04-05-14

Posted on April 13th, 2014 at 3:29 pm by

Divisive? Hell, Yes!

A brave professor of philosophy from the University of Michigan Dearborn Campus suggested the formation of a committee to determine if corporations in which the UMD invests were supporting Israeli Apartheid. David Skrbina addressed his fellow lecturers, professors, and staff at UMD’s Faculty Congress meeting of April 7. Two members of JWPF attended.

The usual comments from Jewish faculty were predictable, most notably that raising the issue is “divisive.” David sensed this charge was likely to be made, and told the audience beforehand that the issue was already divisive. That, however, didn’t stop the curator of UM-Dearborn’s Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive, Jamie Wraight, from telling the audience that the issue was indeed divisive and that we should “leave it alone”.

[Nice to know our tax dollars continue to support and elevate Jewish suffering above all others]

A few other pro-Israel (Jewish?) voices claimed “hostility felt by Jewish students” should squelch real debate on this issue; “academic freedoms [would be] impinged” if such a committee were to be established. “Appalling” chimed in another voice.

Secret Ballot

An Arab professor suggested a secret ballot be held, and his suggestion was upheld by a hand vote. Two issues were to be voted on, based on Skrbina’s request: (1) Divestment and (2) Academic Boycott. The results might not have pleased the Jewish constituents at UM-Dearborn, because even though they “won”, they may realize they’re just whistling past the graveyard, and praying the future doesn’t come. The vote went as follows:

Divestment: 17 Yes, 23 No, 2 Abstain
Boycott 7 Yes, 32 No, 1 Abstain

Jews Prepared

Each member attending the Faculty Congress found a blue folder placed at his/her seat containing articles from the Anti-Defamation League claiming Divestment was “anti-Israel”, one from Breitbart crowing how the TIAA-CREF Board once again refused to place divestment on the ballot, another from the Chronicle of Higher Education telling readers “Land-Grant Universities’ Group Opposes Israel Boycott”. They have nothing in their quiver (neither facts nor moral standing), but Jews nonetheless come prepared to these meetings. Their opponents didn’t have bupkis, and once again get their hat handed to them.

A green folder containing some information about the massacre at Deir Yassin, the attack on the USS Liberty, and the deliberate murder of Rachel Corrie might have been timely and effective. It might also have been helpful to mention some institutions that have divested, in part at least, from Israel, such as government funds in Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and banks such as Deutsche Bank and Danske Bank and religious organizations such as American Friends Service Committee, Friends Fiduciary Corp, Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, and the World Council of Churches.

Which Side Are You On?

Why do activists allow pro-Israel zealots to determine the game? OF COURSE the issue is divisive, and rightly so. Do you support the violent existence of a Jewish supremacist state on Palestinian land – as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demands of us – or will you join JWPF in saying “Hell, No, Your Eminence”. Front and center, every debate needs to address this core issue. Israel supporters recognize this is the crux; why can’t the peace community recognize it as well?

Gilad Atzmon provides a clue from his blog:

“For many years, it was largely Jews and people of the Left who dominated the Anti Zionist discourse. The outcome is very clear. The criticism of Zionism and Israel was partial and Judeo-centric by nature. It evaded broad scrutiny of Jewish power and the tribal operation involved. The majority of anti Zionist texts were designed to vindicate the Jews of crimes committed by the Jewish State and Zionism. Consequently, the anti Zionist discourse achieved very little as far as Palestinians are concerned.”

Comments?

Ten vigilers
“Tell them to get the Hell out of Palestine” RIP, Helen Thomas
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
#

When You Remember Deir Yassin

Posted on April 8th, 2014 at 7:42 pm by

wyrdeiryassinWhen You Remember Deir Yassin (Fomite Press) is a forthcoming volume of poems “on the subject of the occupation and destruction of Palestine” by R. L. Green. Green is a poet, musician, music producer, painter, and a former member of the Deir Yassin Remembered Board of Advisers. For a sample of Mr. Green’s poetry please see “When You Remember“.

Report on Beth Israel vigil 03-29-14

Posted on April 8th, 2014 at 9:28 am by

Road Assignment

Vigiller M accepted the road assignment from HQ to visit the memorial to Rachel Corrie at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. M was to observe if there was any explanation for the death of this young woman on the memorial erected last fall, because the photo merely says: “Reflecting on Peace and Justice In Memory of Rachel Corrie 1979-2003″.

corrie mem-sm

http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/multimedia/2013/10/untitled-06049.jpg

M reported back that although there was no explanation as to the cause of death there was plenty of room for one on the pedestal supporting the glass encased dove sculpture. There is nothing on this memorial that explains that Rachel was deliberately crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer as she attempted to protect the home of a Palestinian family in Rafa, Gaza.

We recognize that this is a public memorial, one that must pass muster with the College’s Board of Trustees. And of course this board must likewise pass muster with some pretty powerful minority groups in its community. So we ask why does this public memorial omit the names of the guilty? And who does this strange omission shield from scrutiny?

A Private Memorial

Let’s take a look at another memorial, this one placed on private property in upstate New York, but doesn’t omit the facts. It is dedicated to the memory of the village of Deir Yassin, Palestine and reads, in part:

Perpetrated by terrorists of the Irgun and Stern Gang, the massacre of Palestinian men, women, and children at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948 is arguably the most pivotal event in 20th century Palestinian history.

The massacres symbolizes the Zionist quest to build a Jewish state on land inhabited for centuries by Muslims, Christians, and Jews. It marks the beginning of the destruction of over 400 Palestinian villages and the exile of more than 700,000 Palestinians.

deir yassin

http://www.deiryassin.org/poem4.html

As we recognize the fact that there exists NO public memorials to this massacre, can we imagine such a memorial passing muster with the Trustees of TheEvergreen State College, or with any college in America? Or would any city, county or state governmental body establish a memorial like this on public property?

Who is denying the American public of information that might affect their opinions on foreign policy? Why do they want to keep information like the memorial on private property away from public scrutiny? Dare we propose that it is the Jewish community which rallies their power to prevent this examination of the history of its Jewish state? Is it so illogical to identify and hold accountable this community – as JWPF does every Saturday morning – for the silencing of information vital to an informed public?

We don’t think so.

Comments?

Nine vigilers
Remember Deir Yassin this Wednesday

http://www.deiryassin.org/

Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
#

Report on Beth Israel vigil 03-22-14

Posted on April 5th, 2014 at 7:05 am by

Probably My Fault

Much was made this week of the large meeting of the University of Michigan’s Central Student Government, which drew over 600 supporters and opponents of a resolution calling for “CSG to petition the Board of Regents to create an ad hoc committee to investigate University investments in companies accused of violating human rights, including General Electric, Heidelberg Cement, Caterpillar Inc. and United Technologies.” The CSG first stonewalled the resolution offered by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), but relented to conduct a vote after a week of sit-ins at the CSG offices organized by SAFE. The resolution was defeated 25 to 9 with 5 council members abstaining.

Now, I thought this to be an opportunity to (a) support SAFE and its resolution; (b) challenge the Jewish dominance that exists in the movement; and (c) to make clear to all that there were larger issues, e.g. Israel’s claimed “right” to exist as a Jewish state. I did this by wearing my “End Israel” hat and carrying a sign saying “Boycott Israel”. I received a surprising reaction.

Several Arab women approached and asked me to remove my hat, because that wasn’t the message they were trying to deliver that night. A former officer of SAFE – and a signatory to the statement disavowing the alleged racism and anti-Semitism of Gilad Atzmon – echoed the women’s request. A Jewish man begged me “from the bottom of my heart” to put away the sign.

You see, they were trying to convince CSG to pass a resolution so focused and narrow that all they were asking for was the creation of a committee to look into and perhaps find some tiny little infraction of human rights violations, and then take this to the Regents of the University of Michigan. And they just knew that by questioning the legitimacy of the Jewish supremacist state that is destroying the land and culture Palestine would ruin their chances of getting this tepid resolution passed. In the end, the resolution was defeated soundly, not even garnering one-quarter of the votes cast.

The Fix was In

Campus Jewish Zionists brought in Jewish Professor Victor Lieberman to lead the fight opposing the resolution; it appears he created his usual mixture of falsehoods sprinkled with a dash of truth now and then in an attempt to appear balanced. SAFE’s response was to bring in the Jewish peace activist and author Max Blumenthal. Now what’s wrong with this picture? Jews on the left, Jews on the right, the Jewish state committing genocide against the Palestinian people, but Jews aren’t being held responsible. And Palestinians have to turn to the ranks of the oppressor group for support.

Jewish Students Offended

After these dialogues with Arab students I put down the “Boycott Israel” sign in favor of the expanded call from Arab leaders in the movement “Israel: No Right to Exist”. That brought the Jews out of the woodwork just as surely as Polish Catholics will appear for free paczkis on Fat Tuesday. For over 30 minutes I was pelted with questions and attempts to block the sign from view. Here’s a sampling of what was said:

Jewish woman: “My grandmother’s friends died in the Holocaust”
Me: “That’s terrible, but I’ve found nobody really wants to talk about the Holocaust”
Jewish man: “What do you mean by that?”
Me: “Well, in the first place, the Zionists were so organized that they were able to hold their first World Zionist Organization meeting in 1897. Adolf Hitler was then eight years old. And secondly, no one can produce a single photo of a homicidal gas chamber”
Jewish man: “The Nazis destroyed everything”
Me: “Not very convincing – did they force all privately taken photos to be burned as well?”
Jewish man (pointing and looking around for support): “He’s denying the Holocaust!”
Another Jewish man: “Are you denying the Holocaust?”
Me: “Define ‘Holocaust’”
He: “Where Jews were rounded up and were murdered in concentration camps”
Me: “Then no, I’m not denying the Holocaust. But I’m not sure that mass murder in camps deserves the name Holocaust”

Some Lessons

1. Never pay blackmail. Some JWPF members remember when a UM professor attempted to get a divestment resolution – similar to SAFE’s this week – introduced at a Regents meeting, circa 2005. This man distributed petitions to students, faculty, and the public for signing. I placed my signature on his petition, but after cajoling from Jewish faculty that they would not sign a document to which I had attached my signature, he removed my name without my approval. The result: the Jewish profs didn’t sign onto the resolution anyway.

2. Don’t play defense. Don’t respond to the opponent’s games of intimidation or playing to Jewish sensibilities. Challenge their assumptions. Ask why Jews were persecuted in Europe (not only Germany), and don’t accept mindless hatred or religion as reasons. Read Alison Weir’s Against our Better Judgment; How the US was used to create Israel to find some surprising reasons challenging mindless hatred.

3. Go for the Gusto. If you’re going to be called names (just read some comments against the SAFE students) for raising tepid issues, then allow yourself to fight for justice and the complete liberation of Palestine. Deny Israel’s claimed “right” to exist. Shed false leaders. Tell Jewish friends that to save themselves, they first have to liberate themselves from their own shackles.

4. Remember Frederick Douglass: “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters…. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Comments?

Nine vigilers
Time to End the Jewish State
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
#

April 1-14: Global Commemoration of the Deir Yassin Massacre

Posted on March 29th, 2014 at 11:16 pm by

MEDIA BACKGROUNDER #2

Contact:

Deir Yassin Remembered – deiryassinremembered@hotmail.co.uk
Gill Kaffash – gillkaffash@hotmail.com – +44 7919 871845
Paul Eisen – paul.eisen@hotmail.co.uk – +44 7831 627560

Pictured below is Ehab Hassan Shalabi, the nephew of Omar Shalabi, Fatah Secretary-General (Jerusalem) and Deir Yassin Remembered board member. The elder Shalabi will be visiting the UK for Deir Yassin Day 2014, accompanied by Madam Shalabi.

Secretary-General and Madam Shalabi will be joined by Madam Rasmieh Nimr Mustafa (Family Eid) a Deir Yassin survivor and by Thair Anis, Deir Yassin Remembered Director (Ramallah)

We’re delighted to say that this brave young man. Ehab, has just been released from an Israeli prison and we share in the joy of his family, friends, and fellow strugglers. However, our joy is tempered by our concern for Omar’s son Iyad who remains behind bars.

Ehab Hassan Shalabi

Report on Beth Israel vigil 03-15-14

Posted on March 22nd, 2014 at 8:17 am by

Abunimah: Absolutely No Reconciliation with Atzmon

(How far our former heroes have fallen)

Ali Abunimah introduced his new book, The Battle for Justice in Palestine, to about thirty people at a presentation at UM Dearborn (University of Michigan, Dearborn campus) last Tuesday. I asked him whether, in response to Blake Alcott’s request to “bury the hatchet” he would be willing to sit down with Gilad Atzmon and publicly hash out their differences.

“Absolutely not” was his reply, and it actually received a smattering of applause from the audience. I then followed up with a request that, for the benefit of this audience, he briefly describe his differences with Atzmon.

“It’s all in the letter” was all he said, and Shaheen (not her real name), the student organizer for the event, supported Abunimah, saying that she had read Alcott’s piece and Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Anti-semitism of Gilad Atzmon.

Shaheen subsequently refused an email request to continue the conversation, writing, “In addition, as a person who is not Jewish, I do not feel that my perspective belongs in conversations about Jewish identity politics and whether or not Gilad has expressed anti-Semitic views.”

I responded “It appears … that your ‘not Jewish’ admission speaks exactly to the power that Gilad writes about. Your perspective belongs in these conversations, absolutely! Why wouldn’t it? Ali’s homeland (might be yours, too … I don’t know) has been under siege by the Jewish state for almost as long as I’ve been alive. And this state gets support from almost all mainstream Jewish organizations worldwide. So it appears to me perfectly normal to question all aspects of the behavior of this Jewish state, including Jewish identity politics. It’s my belief that Gilad’s book is an attempt to do just that, and, from my perspective, not at all in a mean-spirited way.”

Ali also extolled the work of Jewish Voice for Peace and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, which causes me to wonder why a displaced Palestinian would collaborate with Jewish peace organizations who also consider Jewish identity politics, and Israel’s legitimacy, to be verboten topics. When, in The Wandering Who, Gilad defines Zionism as a Jewish tribal preservation project, it becomes clear that Ali Abunimah has sided with those who promote Jewish interests above Palestinian interests and the cause of justice and peace. It is with regret that Ali has become a tacit ally of the Jewish intellectuals who dominate the movement.

Ali said that Israel cannot teach the US about racism because the US promotes its own brand of racism (against Blacks, Latinos, Natives). Hello, Mr. Abunimah, it is not American racism that has ravaged your country, and continues to do so. It is Israeli and American Jewish racism – supported clearly by Jews worldwide – that is doing so, and for you to “spread the blame” is, in my opinion, protecting the very ones you should be holding accountable.

He pointed out the chapter in his book, which asks “Does Israel have a right to exist as a Jewish state?”, but did not answer the question at the presentation. Hopefully, he will answer the question in the book. Finally, and for the record, Gilad Atzmon was contacted prior to writing this report and shared his willingness to sit down with Ali anytime.

Vigils Defended at City Council

Last fall, Rev. James Rhodenhiser spoke at an Ann Arbor City council meeting to denounce our vigils, covered in the local press. Peacemonger had responded in the blog post, The Mediocrity of James Rhodenhiser at the time, and we felt it incumbent to address the issue at the venue in which it was raised. Our talk was televised, and by clicking here and fast-forwarding to 00:29:00, you can view the presentation. Text of speech follows signature.

Comments?

Mar. 8: 9 vigilers
Mar. 15: 8 vigilers
“It’s the Jews, Stupid!” … Michael Rabb, Boulder
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
#

Speech to Ann Arbor City Council
March 17, 2014 [402 words]
Topic: Synagogue vigils at Beth Israel Congregation

Good Evening,

The peaceful vigils we have held in front of Beth Israel Congregation for over ten years has borne the brunt of many a critic’s voice, as recently as last fall when the Rev. James Rhodenhiser of the St. Clare Episcopal Church addressed this body.

I would like to respond to some of the Reverend’s assertions about our group, Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends. According to the Ann Arbor dot com article by Ryan Stanton, the Reverend said that we have

“a right to free speech but it’s wrong to target Beth Israel for the actions of a foreign government”

This is an incorrect statement. We have never held the synagogue responsible for the crimes of the Jewish state; we have held them accountable for their own self-expressed SUPPORT for the existence of and the crimes committed by this state.

Reverend Rhodenhiser also joined others in claiming that our vigil group “at the very least should ‘spread the blame around’ and target different congregations — and give Beth Israel a break.”

This reveals another incorrect assumption: that we are unfairly singling out Beth Israel Congregation for a crime that is also committed by other religious denominations. But I doubt that the services at Rhodenhiser’s Saint Clare’s Episcopal Church include prayers for the state of Israel; nor do they of their own volition fly the flag of a foreign country within their sanctuary; nor does he take parishioners’ children to Israel and – as part of their indoctrination – pose them with armed Israeli soldiers perched on military vehicles. And St. Clare’s website is not full of admiration for armed violence when, for example, Israel invades Gaza or Lebanon.

No, these moral shortcomings are unique to the Jewish community. After all, Israel is not an Episcopalian state; it’s a Jewish state and enjoys almost total support from organized Jewish religious and political organizations. And that is precisely why we choose as a venue a Zionist synagogue whose entire membership – according to Rabbi Rob Dobrusin – supports Israel’s claimed right to exist as a Jewish state.

Malcolm X recognized clearly that the racism inherent in the Black struggle for equality in the US existed entirely within the white community. And so it is that the racism which prevents Palestinians from achieving their equal rights exists entirely within the Jewish community.

To Pastor Rhodenhiser, Malcolm X and I ask, which side are you on?

Thank you

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